The fruits of the pumpkin are so many-sided and variable that you wonder at their shades and shapes. At least three types of pumpkin are widely represented in the culture, on the basis of which many varieties are bred. In this article I will talk about an unusual acorn pumpkin, or "pumpkin-acorn." This pumpkin has a miniature size, a characteristic shape that gives it a resemblance to an acorn, and most importantly - an unusual pulp. It does not look like a usual pumpkin and may well replace potatoes in dietary dishes. How to grow pumpkin acorn and how to use it in cooking?Pumpkin acorn is a healthy vegetable without pumpkin smell and taste.
What pumpkin acorn is it?
Traditionally, this type of pumpkin was grown by the indigenous people of North and Central America, from whom European immigrants learned about this pumpkin. The Indians appreciated the pumpkin acorn, as it could be stored for a long time. In addition, due to its small size, the fruit was easy to cook whole on the coals from the fire.
Acorn pumpkin (Acorn) or as it is sometimes called "pepper pumpkin", refers to hard-boiled pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo var. Turbinata) and is considered the so-called “winter” vegetable, as it is suitable for long-term storage. Acorn pumpkin is eaten mainly in autumn and winter.
An acorn gourd has a well-recognized appearance: it is characterized by numerous longitudinal ribs, and, as the name implies, its conical shape is very similar to an acorn (pumpkins are elongated, and taper to the bottom).
By size, the fruits are very tiny, their weight ranges from 500 g to 1 kg, while the length of the pumpkin is from 10 to 20 centimeters. The most common variety has a dark green bark, often with a bright orange spot on the side or top of the fruit. However, there are varieties with yellow, orange, motley and even pure white color. Inside, the pumpkin has a light orange or pale yellow flesh.
Another feature of the gastric pumpkin is that most varieties have a bush or semi-bush type of growth, that is, such a pumpkin does not take up much space in the garden. At the same time, the pumpkin acorn is very prolific and sometimes differs simply in fantastic productivity.
However, there is one shortcoming in acorn pumpkin. Compared to some of the other pumpkins I grow, its fruits do not last too long. Therefore, we try to eat pumpkin acorns in the first place.Pumpkin "Gills Golden Pippin". Pumpkin "Uconn" (Uconn). Pumpkin Acorn Table Queen Bush.
Popular acorn pumpkin varieties
Pumpkin "Gills Golden Pippin". A semi-bush variety that forms relatively short lashes up to 1.5 meters long. The taste is very pleasant with a slight nutty flavor, slightly sweet. Best suited for frying with onions. This variety is considered one of the best in taste among all varieties of acorn pumpkin. Fruits weighing up to 1 kilogram, the color of the bark is orange.
Pumpkin Ukonn (Uconn) Pumpkin bush type, forms massive bushes up to 70 centimeters in diameter. Differs in high productivity. On the bushes, portioned fruits weighing up to 1 kilogram are tied. The color of the pumpkin is classic for acorn pumpkins - dark green with an orange blush on its side. The flesh is slightly sweet in taste. Early ripening - 80 days from sowing seeds.
Pumpkin Queen Queen Bush (Acorn Table Queen Bush) A very productive variety produces dark green fruits in the shape of an acorn, about 12 centimeters in diameter with deep longitudinal grooves. Inside is a sweet orange flesh with an oily texture. The mass of one pumpkin is up to 1 kilogram. Fruits are ready for harvest after 80 days. The compact bush variety can be used for growing in containers.
Pumpkin "Golden Acorn" (Table Gold Acorn Squash) Early ripe variety, the crop ripens in 80-85 days from the appearance of seedlings. The plant is compact, bush type growth. The gastric fruits have the most saturated orange color among all varieties of pumpkin-acorns. The average weight of one pumpkin is 500 grams. The flesh is yellow, fragrant, slightly dry, tender and tasty.
Pumpkin "White Acorn" (White acorn) A unique variety with a rare white color for pumpkin. Color can vary from pure white to a slightly yellowish cream, the surface of the cortex is smooth and matte, the ribbing is shallow. Due to its attractive appearance, it can be used to create decorative compositions. The maturity is 80 days, the yield is high, the weight of the fetus is up to one kilogram.
Pumpkin "Festival" (Festival hybrid) is a unique variety of pumpkin, often found on sale under the name "squash pumpkin". The fruits are distinguished by a very elegant motley coloring: on a creamy background, strips of various shades of yellow and orange, as well as dark green circles, are randomly scattered. A medium-ripening variety, it is ready for harvesting after 100 days. Productivity is very high. Elegant pumpkins serve as a wonderful decoration of the kitchen interior.Pumpkin "Acorn Golden" (Table Gold Acorn Squash). Pumpkin "White Acorn" (White Acorn). Pumpkin "Festival" (Festival Hybrid).
Features of growing pumpkin acorn
Like most pumpkin varieties, acorns are very easy to grow. Seeds are sown directly into the soil after the danger of return frost has passed. In the middle lane, this period falls approximately in the middle-end of May.
Seeds are placed in a hole to a depth of about 2.5 centimeters. The distance between the holes is 90x90 centimeters. The soil for planting must first be well seasoned with organic matter. In good warm weather, seedlings may appear within a week. Pumpkin care is minimal - watering in the dry period and fertilizing with nitrogen (at the beginning of growth) and complex fertilizer on soils with an average level of fertility.
Almost all varieties of acorn gourd early ripening. About 85 days after germination, the pumpkin is ready to harvest. In order to increase the keeping quality of the fruit, it is possible to carry out the “hardening” procedure, which will help the bark become harder and, therefore, protect the pulp from early spoilage.
This procedure takes seven to ten days, at which time the fruits should be in a dark, warm, dry place (for example, in a barn). It is important to ensure that the room can also protect the fruits from light frosts. After the expiration date, the fruits can be brought into the house.
Also read our article The best pumpkins for storage and various dishes - soup, juice, baking, desserts.
How to cook acorn pumpkin?
The pumpkin acorn has a soft, buttery taste that goes well with any spices and sauces, both savory and sweet. This pumpkin is not as rich in beta-carotene as other varieties of pumpkin, however, the fruits are a source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and B, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Gourd pumpkin does not have a characteristic pumpkin taste and smell; therefore, in many recipes it replaces potatoes.
The acorn pumpkin can be baked, fried, cooked in the microwave, stewed or steamed. Due to its small size, it can be stuffed with a mixture of cereals (rice, millet, eggs), meat or vegetables. Gourd pumpkin is just perfect for stuffing, as small pumpkins also serve as original dishes for the dish.
In sweet dishes, maple syrup is often used to enhance the taste of pumpkins, with which halves are rubbed before baking. The seeds of this pumpkin can also be eaten after roasting. Gourd pumpkin can also be used to make pumpkin soup.Acorn pumpkin is just perfect for stuffing.
Little tricks for cooking pumpkin acorns
To cut a hard fruit in half, use a strong, sharp knife. There is a little trick that can facilitate cutting a strong pumpkin: pierce the bark with a fork or the tip of a knife in several places, put in the microwave and cook at high power for two minutes. After this, the fruit must be allowed to stand for several minutes, after which it will be very easy to cut.
So that during baking, the half-boats do not swing on the baking sheet, cut a small piece from the bottom, this will make the surface flat and more stable.
Also read our article Potimaron, or pumpkin chestnut - a miracle vegetable from France or an ordinary pumpkin?
Dear readers! And what interesting varieties of pumpkin do you grow on your plots? Please share your experience in the comments to the article!